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AMA calls for expanded eating disorder coverage

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The American Medical Association House of Delegates says all health insurers and health plans should provide coverage for eating disorders.

Members of the House of Delegates, the governing body of the Chicago-based group, approved an eating disorder benefits resolution earlier this week, at the group’s annual meeting.

The AMA started the meeting Sunday and ended it Wednesday.

Related: New York announces mental health parity settlement

The federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 already requires many group health plans that offer benefits for mental health services or addiction treatment services to provide comparable levels of benefits for the behavioral health care services and other types of services.

The federal parity act does not require an affected plan to provide coverage for a particular behavioral health condition, and some plans exclude coverage for conditions such as anorexia and bulimia, according to the AMA.

The new AMA resolution changes an existing AMA policy. The revised version of the policy states that the “AMA supports parity of coverage for mental illness, alcoholism, substance abuse and eating disorders.” 

The AMA “will advocate against exclusions from coverage of specific diagnoses such as eating disorders,” according to another section of the resolution.

Dr. Barbara McAneny, a former AMA chairwoman, said in a statement that only about 10 percent of patients with eating disorders are getting treatment for the disorders, even though the mortality rate for eating disorders is high.

“Ensuring mental health parity in benefits will save lives,” McAneny said.

Fitness program

The American Medical Association’s House of Delegates called for all health plans to offer diabetes prevention program benefits. (Photo: iStock)

Diabetes push

In another move, House of Delegates approved a resolution calling for all private and public health plans to offer diabetes prevention program benefits for enrollees who appear to have prediabetes. Plans should encourage enrollees who are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to sign up for formal programs that will help them eat better and exercise more, according to the resolution.

In other AMA meeting news:

    • Dr. Andrew Gurman of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, took over as the group’s president. Gurman, an orthopedic hand surgeon, said he will focus on improving health outcomes for Americans who have high blood pressure or prediabetes; modernizing medical education; and improving physician satisfaction and practice sustainability. Gurman said he has “witnessed the suffocating impact of administrative paperwork and burdensome regulations, which have no real connection to quality care delivery.”

    • Dr. David Barbe, a family physician from Mountain Grove, California, became president-elect. Barbe has worked on efforts to improve care for the uninsured, change the health care system, change Medicare and change the commercial health insurance market.

See also:

Feds hint at coming mental parity suits

California court makes insurer cover residential anorexia care

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